La Liga stink out Europe | Sceptical about Vermaelen | Pat Rice news

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Barca & Madrid Shame Spain

I’m sitting in a service station, 14 Japanese teenage tourists are playing on  a teddy picker screaming like Wayne Rooney had just walked into their dorm naked with a £200 pack of fags in his hand. Quite bizarre, quite irritating…

Anyway! Not as irritating as the disgrace that offended my eyes last night. Watching a Jose Mourinho set up with no strikers was amusing, watching him try and suck the joy out of the Bernebeu was not quite so amusing. Madrid have a heritage that is completely disrespected when he plays like that. If I was their President and I was paying out a £180million wage bill to watch that, I’d be pretty damn miffed. Ok, we all like to win, but jeez… it’s not like he’s working on a Stoke budget here!

The Spanish teams totally shamed themselves last night. The standard cheating that comes as part of the package in La Liga was on show for all to see. Sure, they might be more technically gifted than some of our mid table teams but they still have to cheat to gain an advantage. There is nothing more vulgar than watching grown men feign injury. There is nothing more cringe making than watching professionals roll about on the floor like they’ve just been slammed in the head with a bar stool.

For the honest man, there is nothing more boring than La Liga.

The World Cup Final was tarnished in the same way. European teams have no honour and I hate to watch it. The very fact that fans of other clubs are still highlighting Bobby P’s dive against Portsmouth when we were at Highbury tells you how good we have it over here. If that were two Premiership teams out there last night, there would have been uproar in our papers and possibly a UEFA inquest. Football in our League is about integrity, the fans don’t pay to see people out cheat each other. Sure it happens, it does in many sports, but it doesn’t often happen in such shameless fashion.

Last night over shadowed another great night from possibly the most amazing footballer who has ever graced the planet. This morning it’ll all be about Mourinho highlighting the conspiracy of UEFA. He paints a compelling case, it is amazing how many decisions go Barcelona’s way… we know first hand the power of the Camp Nou after watching Robin take a red card for a ridiculous decision. However, as a professional manager of one of the worlds most prestigious clubs, comments like that are outrageous and bring the game into total disrepute.

He should be banned for a long time for his statements… he’s out of control and his comments left a taste more disgusting than the one I had for the football match itself.

In other news, Fulham spanked Bolton 3-0 at home. Marvelous, Stoke turn them over 5-0 the week before us, then relegation fodder Fulham beat them the week after. We really need to address our play. We should be tanking teams like Bolton especially when there is so much riding on the match.

According to Youngguns website, Thomas Vermaelen could be pencilled in for a reserve team outing against United. If that goes well, we might just see a return to action in some capacity before the end of the season. We’ve kept you posted about his injury as best we can, the truth is, no one at the club has had a clue about his return for a while. I’m a bit sceptical about him coming back, I’d rather he was just taken out altogether and given a proper preseason. Wheeling him out in one of the final games would just be a nice PR stunt that would give Arsenal fans the assurance we don’t need another defender. We don’t know how he’s going to react to 5 games, this could be recurring just like it was for Rosicky. We need to go out and sign a quality centre back who can compete next season from the start.

I’d also like to pre-warn all of you about the traditional end of season tactics Arsene uses to convince us only one or two super signings are needed. If we’re out the hunt after Sunday, he’ll use the remaining games to play some of the exciting kids we have coming through, the average age of the team will fall to fourteen and a half, we’ll win our games and all of a sudden, we won’t need to worry about signing new players because we’ll have a crop that could possibly dominate world football next season.

Don’t fall for it… it’s the oldest trick in the ‘I believe in my squad’ handbook.

We have Manchester United coming up on Sunday. I’m not really sure what to expect. On paper, we have what it takes to turn them over, in the players heads… well, who knows what goes on there! I’d love to think the players are really motivated to at least upset United’s run for the Premiership, I’m just not sure they are. I’d guess many of them are more interested in their holidays, or setting up a twitter account like Abou Diaby did yesterday.

Still, at least Eboue has been wheeled out to speak the press. Nothing quite like a rousing piece in the Independent to stir all the Arsenal fans and players into believing again! Honestly, I do wonder what the PR department at Arsenal are thinking about letting our worst fringe players loose on the press? Why can’t we have Robin or Cesc in the press rallying the troops? Why is it always Nik B, Eboue or Denilson?

The Daily Mail have an interesting story about Pat Rice retiring at the end of the season due to a chronic knee injury. A story I have to say is about as believable as an Almunia wrist injury! Dear oh dear… what will they think of next?

Anyway, that’s your lot for today, see you in the comments!

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Cesc could be on his way to loaded Barca…

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So I had my say on any potential protest yesterday, I engaged a little with a few of the people running it and I’ll stick by my guns when I say I’m still not sure the anonymous organsisers or many of the followers are clear on what they’re walking in the name of. Really, if they wanted 100% backing, it should have been in the name of season ticket price increases, as it’s a broad selection of everything, I’m not sure it’ll quite receive the same support.

We’ll see though, from experience, I know what people say online and what they actually do in real life are two different things. I’ve read countless people tell me they’d sacrifice their two arms and a new-born puppy for the opportunity of a ticket. Yet I have times during a season when I can’t shift 2 half price club level tickets to a Chelsea game. I still have two spare club level season tickets ready to go that no one is interested in!

So my advice to any movement is take a ‘like’ or a ‘follow’ with a massive pinch of salt… it’s probably the most effortless thing you can do online with regards to a protest.

In other news…

The whole Cesc / Barcelona thing is well and truly back on the cards. Xavi is 31 now and Cesc is a younger version of him except he has goals to boot. Obviously Barcelona are going to be interested in taking our captain back to Spain. The only trouble is, there is the small matter of a lengthy contract and a hefty fee. Last season Wenger fought to keep his Captain on, this season, unless he makes a statement early on with some signings of intent, I’d be very surprised if it was quite so easy to keep him.

Whether Barcelona have the cash has never been a problem in the past. Last year, according the their marketing director, they very nearly had to sell Lionel Messi to pay off their monster debts. Arab money flew in and allowed them to pay off a huge chunk of their debt and restructure the remaining shortfall into bite size chunks with an Ocean Finance consolidation deal.

Word on Finance Street last year was they had £40million spare from that deal they could use to sign players, they didn’t spend it, so this years prize money will go on top of that so you’d imagine if the Cesc asking price was £60million, they could afford it. If they wanted to throw in a player like Mascharano to sweeten the deal, they could definitely afford it.

Is this summer a good time to change things around? For all Cesc’s greatness, building a team around him has hardly proved successful? Do we need to create more power around our smaller players going forward?  Do we need to add more pace out wide and give Theo an opportunity more centrally? Do Samir Nasri’s physical attributes make more sense in the middle in the Premier League? I think Cesc leaving could actually work out better than many may think. If he went, we’d have to make sure we signed top quality replacements. You’d need to sign two players to make up for his goals and assists alone… not to mention build up team morale again.

It’s interesting that we’ve had another poor season defensively but at the same time, it’s the most satisfied we’ve been with a starting back four in ages. Ok, Clichy has been up and down and he drops the occasional clanger, but he’s a pretty good left back. Sagna is probably the best right back in the league, Kos and JD have formed a formidable partnership at the back and we have Thomas Vermaelen coming back into the fold next year. If we can make the 4th choice defender young and hungry, we’d have a very good compliment of defenders especially with the emergence of Chezzer in goal.

The teams problem this year has come from collective responsibility and attitude. Theo Walcott gave a very frank interview with my best friends over at the Telegraph

“Hopefully we will learn from it. We have to. If we want to win trophies we need to learn straight away. We can’t be using the excuse of being young players. We’re experienced, we’ve played in the Champions League. We need to stand up for ourselves and take responsibility at times, and I’m not sure we are always doing that.”

How true is that last comment? Would it be fair to say that a manager who doesn’t dish out accountability may be responsible for allowing that attitude to creep into the squad? If it’s always the referee, the pitch or the fact Stoke don’t come and play football at the Emirates… does that give the players a get out of jail free card? Does the fact Wenger rarely punishes inept performances with bench time mean players don’t worry about how they play?

“In the Tottenham game we showed a lot of spirit and fight. That’s what the fans want to see more of. We’ve got to do that every week. We’ve been hot and cold, doing it some weeks. Instead of making things happen we have been waiting for things to happen.”

Absolutely spot on again from Theo. I’ve said countless times this season, I can accept it when our team loses or picks up a bad result as long as I can see fight on the pitch. In fact, I think almost every football fan in the world can accept a bad result as long as the players are out there fighting 100% until the end.

I don’t think we’ve had that this season. I think we’ve been out hungered many times by many teams that aren’t fit to lace our boots. We have spoilt brat syndrome at the club. It’s like some of the people you meet in business who are Oxbridge educated. They’ve had it all, the world-class education, the huge allowance all the way through, never working a stroke… it all counts for nothing when they get into the big bad world of working and common sense and hard work prevail.

Our players live in an incredible bubble of opulence. I have pals who work around football and apparently Arsenal look after their players better than any other club in the country. Ultimately pampered. Does that spoilt attitude creep onto the pitch when the chips are down? I believe so… that’s why signing British grit from Bolton might work out. That’s why bringing in players who are refugees of  European football is a good idea… because they know what it’s like to feel rejected and they’re hungry to prove that their last clubs were wrong.

Sneijder, RvDV and Milito all spring to mind from the recent past. How about Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp and Marc Overmars from Arsenal’s distant past? All players who were past it or of failed potential… all went onto great things. Those are the types Arsenal need to be looking at this summer. Those are they types that will bring the winning attitude back to Arsenal and perhaps pass on a bit of their wisdom to players not pulling their weight currently.

Right, that’s your lot for the day… how about a cool video not related to football to pass about 2 minutes if you’re at work? Or how about your read Suga from the comments super translation of an interview with young upstart Chezzer? Or how about you read a post about some new Arsenal songs here?

P.S. If anyone is looking to sell a season ticket next year or split one, contact me via the contact form!

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So Arsenal fans… are you going to protest?

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You can’t hide from it, people are talking about it all over the web, in comment sections, on twitter… it’s the planned demonstration planned by Where has our Arsenal gone (WHOAG). It’s happening at 1430 on the 15th of May before the Aston Villa game. At the moment, rumours are that 200 or so Arsenal fans are going to meet, don black scarves and wander up to the ground to make a statement of dissatisfaction against the club.

I recently wrote that I’m not a fan of protest and pop up action groups. I still stand by that but what I am a fan of is people who actually want to do something. I’m a fan of supporters joining together to do something they see as for the better of the club and I’m a fan of giving everyone the choice to make a rational decision on whether they want to join.

From what I can gather, they are in the main marching against the increase in season ticket pricing. The group are not a collection of post 1996 Arsenal fans, they are in fact the opposite. Many of them have been season ticket holders since the 70’s, they’ve seen the dark days of Arsenal football club, they’re members of the AST and AISA but they want to take things into their own hands to let the club know they’re not happy about the way things are going.

Some of their ideas are very fair. They want the club to recognise that increasing the cost of season tickets is hitting fans hard, they want to offer the chance for fans to downgrade their seats, they want the club to allow fans the chance to have a season ticket holiday for a year, they want the away fans to be moved into the upper tier into the more expensive areas so there are more affordable seats for the faithful.

A protest about season ticket pricing makes absolute sense to me and that is a cause I’d absolutely back.

The trouble from where I’m sitting is the press release about the march lacks direction and clear objectives. They veer off into areas like commercial activity, corporate fan slagging, the manager’s lack of spending and sacking the Chairman. All debatable points on their own, but all they do for me is add confusion to the situation and they muddy the water.

A protest needs goals and objectives. If no one is exactly sure about what they’re protesting about, you allow the rest of the web to make snap assumptions. Many people are calling it a ‘Wenger out’ protest. Le Grove has dealt with people who make assumptions about our site without reading it and I fear that what is essentially a good willed movement is being tarnished by the very vocal and aggressive AKB.

This is the problem with new groups, it’s very hard to create an organisation when no one is fronting the group. I tried to contact them via their twitter account last night for a few words and I’ve heard nothing. That’s why my preference is go through more official channels like the AST. You know every statement made by them is carefully researched and rational. The AST wrote an e-mail to Ivan Gazidis the day after they found out about the potential hike in season ticket prices way back in February. Do you think it’s a coincidence the club has waited so long to announce regular season ticket increases?

I don’t like the factions that have been created at Arsenal this season, it’s really sad that we can’t all get along. It’s sad that fans are tearing lumps out of each other in the ground and it’s sad that groups like WHOAG have to set up in the first place. I won’t be joining any protest until there is more clarity around exactly what the goal of it is supposed to be but I do admire that a group of Arsenal fans are willing to take their grievances to the street and make a public point to the club.

What I’ve done is join the AST. I’ll be filling out the end of season questionnaire which goes directly to the board. I’ll then be attending the AST Ivan Gazidis meeting (June 13th) where he’ll take questions uncensored for an hour and a half from anyone who is a member. For all the criticism the club receives, there aren’t many CEO’s that would put themselves through such an ordeal.

We may have lost out way on the pitch this season but I strongly believe the club tries its best to involve the fans every step of the way. Globalisation of football is inevitable… if you want tradition, you’ll have to find another sport. For all the eulogizing about the game way back when… you did get what you paid for. Terracing was fun, but football violence wasn’t. Paying a tuppence for a ticket was value for money, seeing people throw bananas at black players was not. Knowing that you were likely to see your favourite players down the local after was nice… but seeing the power, pace and skill we have now is far more enjoyable.

Hopefully when Ivan Gazidis takes his hot seat in June, he’ll have snapped up a decent player and the fans will feel somewhat appeased. At the core of it, we all want what’s best for the club, we all want to be optimistic and we all want to feel our club is trying its hardest to be the best that it can be.

This summer is the chance for the club to unite the fans again, I just hope Stan understands that sentiment.

So… will you be protesting? Let us know in the comments!

P.S. If you get the chance, could you vote for Tatty Designer Darrell’s design in a competition? (CLICK HERE!)

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